Speak Up During Railway Safety Week This September


  • Brittney D. Kohler
September 13, 2023 - (3 min read)

If a train comes through your community, the National League of Cities hopes that you will speak up during national Rail Safety Week happening September 18-24 this year. After a tragic derailment that shook Ohio in East Palestine earlier this year, rail safety became national news, but for many communities, it was already the talk of the town. With rail safety in the spotlight, local leaders have a chance to share your rail safety concerns to save lives.  

Right now, the National Surface Transportation Board is investigating  the Ohio derailment and other concerning rail incidents, and the Senate is advancing the Railway Safety Act (S.576/H.R.1647), bipartisan legislation to strengthen rail safety across the country, this fall. If a train comes through your community, the National League of Cities hopes that you will join us in calling for action on rail safety.

Rail Tragedies Happen Across the Country

With 160,000 miles of rail tracks cross the U.S., trains run through thousands of cities, towns and villages. Unfortunately, train derailments like the one in East Palestine, Ohio, in February, are not isolated incidents, with over a thousand happening each year in the U.S. according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s data. Every day in the U.S., an average of three trains derail with as many as half potentially carrying hazardous substances.

However, some areas of the country see more incidents than others. More than half of all recent derailments occurred in 9 states: Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Alabama, California, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Washington. More than 2,100 people are injured or killed each year in crossing and trespassing incidents, and every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train. 

See Your Community’s Derailment Risk

NLC’s interactive Rail Safety Map allows you to easily see the frequency of derailments in your area and along your rail line. This new map is the easiest way to see what derailments have happened and who the Member of Congress is for that area. Use the data to understand what risks are common in your area and if your city should consider infrastructure upgrades at crossings. Several federal grants exist to help local governments with planning and building these projects.

Support the Railway Safety Act

This September’s Railway Safety Week is a collaborative effort spanning the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and another opportunity to put the focus on local rail issues with Congress and your residents.

NLC encourages your community to consider writing your Senators and Member of Congress using the draft letter to urge passage. Together, we can make the railways in our communities safer and keep trains on the tracks where they belong!

Find Out More

About the Author

Brittney D. Kohler

About the Author

Brittney Kohler is the Legislative Director of Transportation and Infrastructure at the National League of Cities.